Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Fall Adventures 2018

I'm a wee bit behind on blogging but here's a quick recap

Book club! I hosted my first book club on the second Friday in October. We read The Snow Child and I was excited for the discussion (and the food of course). Unfortunately it was a bad weekend for most people so only 3 could make it but we ate apple pie, had a fire going, and just had fun chatting. And everyone loved the book even when one of the girls admitted that she was not excited about it at first.

 We went to Spooner's Farm in Puyallup with Marjorie's family. Austin grew up going here and it's expanded a lot since then. We had fun figuring out a corn maze and chatting it up. Her Packer boy is so cute. So fun to hang out together.

Seth came to University of Washington for a conference and let me know that he was in the area. On Friday, he was presenting so Dallin and I took the bus and met him at the museum of natural history on campus where he was presenting. It was a beautiful fall day and made me a little envious of all these students who get to walk these around here every day. Seth did a great job even though I was a little loss of all the media journalism lingo but he was so nice to take some afterwards and chat.

That night we had our ward Halloween party and it was packed, just like we heard it would be. We dressed up as the black-eyed P's again and Dallin was a pumpkin.

I've been soaking up the fall weather before it gets too cold and you can find me almost every week at St. Edward's or on the trail. One Saturday we did my favorite quarter of a mile loop and they had a picture book on the various stops along the way.

Austin got new glasses and started growing a beard. He's a whole new man. ;)

Dallin has been trying out different types of food-some with pleasure but most with disgust haha.

A Relief Society activity on hand lettering. It's been a couple of years since I've learned and I'm out of practice but it was so fun. And they gave us our own brush pen!

And for some random photos

Monday, November 19, 2018

Planning The Holidays Using the 5 Senses

My sis-in-law Becca introduced me and the Doutre women during our TOFDW (Time Out For Doutre Women) call on this podcast episode about creating a safe haven for your home using the 5 senses. I loved that concept and thought to apply it for the holidays this year. 

It culminated with getting an email workshop from Learn, Do, Become website (done by Power of Moms cofounder April) about making the holidays intentional. She was talking about how our memory is good about capturing moments and holding on to those-they come in forms of the 5 senses essentially. 

I may not remember everything that happened this year but I'll remember how my house smelt (whether that was through a burnt meal or apple pie out of the oven!) or through a peaceful moment with just looking at the Christmas tree and talking about life with Austin. I remember doing that last year (pic above). I was pregnant with Dallin and I got all teary-eyed thinking that a year from then we would have a 6 month old. It seemed surreal and sad that our time with just 'us two' was coming to a close. But it was so peaceful and calm and I want to always remember that moment. 
I'll also remember Christmas at my home with the smell and stickiness of caramel popcorn!
What I also like about creating my holiday through the 5 senses is that I don't have to stress about doing every little Christmas event/tradition and it feels very adaptable. A lot of things that I want to implement aren't 'events' but what feeling it will create. I know we'll mold traditions as it comes but hopefully this will get us a good start. It's a running list right now and I think we'll plan to do at least two from each group (one that Austin wants and one that I want) and then feel it out from there. And life happens so I'm not trying to stress if it's done 'right'. 

This year, I do want to read more about the Savior each night. We've had a pretty consistent pattern of reading as a family a few verses of scripture each night before Dallin goes to bed so I want to continue that habit and incorporate the Christmas story in there. Along with the New Testament, any other resources I should check out?

Here are some ideas we're thinking about for each of the 5 senses:

Make apple pie together
Drink hot chocolate
Candles at dinner or just have Christmas lights on during dinner

Scented pinecones 
Cranberries with cinnamon sticks on the stove top-simmering all day

Hugs and kisses after family prayers
Hold Dallin while we read books-try to do as many Christmas books as we can
Snuggle up with our favorite fleece blankets

Christmas music! 
Sing songs around the piano
Listen to A Christmas Carol on audiobook or the Mormon Channel

Less clutter in living room and bedroom-this is kind of like pre-holiday: try to get rid of a lot of things that are unnecessary and take up too much room
Go see Christmas lights in different neighborhoods and/or the zoo lights
Attend local Christmas concert/play or Messiah event
Watch Hallmark Christmas movies
Have a fire going and turn on Christmas lights as soon as it gets dark

If you were planning the holidays with the 5 senses in mind, what would you do? What are your favorite traditions?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Emptiness from Constant Consuming

I just listened to a Ted talk by Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work, and it was all about quitting social media. I had a conversation with my sister yesterday about how our attention span is so short and we are constantly drifting to checking our phone or doing the next task. I'll admit that I've given up many books not only because I wasn't interested but I think it was partly due to the brain power it required and it was too much. 

I've also noticed that I'm a skimmer. Not only with books but with scripture. I'm not sure if I've developed this habit with trying to read as many books in a year as possible or if I'm just used to doing that so much with small bites of twitter feeds, glancing over someone's long post on instagram, and doing a brief check on facebook. I haven't savored the words. I wonder if this also has contributed to me ditching books with beautiful prose that seem far over my head. Or putting off that classic because I could pick up a Jane Austen retelling instead. 

This morning I read from 2 Nephi 27:3 and it culminated everything I was just thinking about it. "Behold he eateth...and his soul is empty." In the margins previously I referenced how this could be about feeding the natural man which is very true. But it seemed to hit heavier on the thought that I do a lot of consuming throughout the day and by the end, my 'soul is empty'. Doing President Nelson's challenge was enlightening and needed. But I still felt a dependence on my phone and I felt like I was constantly checking it just to check it. I had no purpose in it. When I went back on social media I was reminded that it wasn't as exciting as I thought, I didn't miss that much, and I sort of had a brain fog because I didn't realize where all the time went. 

I do love keeping in contact with my siblings but I think I've relied a lot on them posting to know what's going on. I'm trying to figure out a balance with my phone and consumption. I do a lot of consuming throughout the day (social media or group me or otherwise) with little contributing. 

I'm really considering doing a holiday fast from social media till the start of the new year starting with the Thanksgiving holiday. Ah! I've haven't done anything longer than 10 days so I'm a little nervous. Any tips? Suggestions? Who wants to join me? :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

What I've Been Reading Lately

If you follow me on Goodreads then nothing will be new here but I've read some really good books lately so I thought I would highlight a few here. 

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton: I'm a huge Kate Morton fan so I was so excited to read her latest this fall and it was a great seasonal read! This is one of those books I looked forward to reading at the end of the day. I just couldn’t read too late into the night by myself because it would freak me out slightly.

This one is a little different than her other novels except for the fact of jumping time periods like she usually does. There’s no real twist but it’s all about weaving stories together that revolve around Birchwood Manor. You’re always curious to what did happen in the summer of 1862 and how do all these characters relate?

But she throws in a TON of characters. I was nearing page 300 and there were still new characters being introduced. I can see why people didn't like this as much. The writing style was different because of the ghost character but I thought it was done tactfully even though it took me a couple of chapters in to get the groove of it. 

Chester and Gus by Cammie McGovern: Recommended by my sister, this was such a sweet middle grade novel and different than what I've read in a while. It's from the perspective of Chester, the dog, who is been trained to find 'his person' to help. And he feels he's found it in an autistic boy named Gus. I'm usually not an animal person or I like reading about them but I really loved that even though it was from the dog's perspective, it had some real emotions without being cheesy. 

Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall by Nina WilnerInteresting look at a family's story that is divided by the Berlin Wall. I learned so much about East and West Germany at this time and I'm glad I learned it through the eyes of this family. It's heartbreaking to think that some of the siblings and their parents had little to no connection with each other, some for almost 40 years. This was written by a granddaughter so it had a similar feel/story to "We Were the Lucky Ones" but told in a non-fiction standpoint instead of historical fiction. (side note: Georgia Hunter, author of WWTLO, did a podcast interview with Anne on What Should I Read Next that I thoroughly enjoyed and Anne's book recommendations sound so interesting!) At times this book felt a little lengthy but overall really good. The central theme I felt was you don't know what it's like to have freedom until you lose it. 

Sweep: The Story of the Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier: This one came highly recommended by Sarah McKenzie on her instagram feed and I'm a sucker when someone says it's the best book they've read this year and they hope it wins the Newbery because it's that good. It was really really good. It's about Nan, a chimney sweeper in Victorian London and her experiences with Charlie, her golem and protector, while trying to escape from her evil master. There were so many great lessons that would be great discussion builders for kids and adults. It does have a bit of Dickens' feel with the time period and themes of child labor and poverty. And you need to read the author's notes at the end. Makes the book more meaningful.

Some quotes: “I’m not going to tell you it’s easy or that you shouldn’t be scared. But being scared’s not the whole story of it. There’s another reason we climb—one that makes all that danger worth it. It’s the view. There’s nothing in the world like it.”

"We are saved by saving others.”

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray: It took me a little bit to get into but then there was a point that I wanted to find time to read it. I blew through this book. She packs a ton of drama in these 600 pages which can be exhausting but definitely makes you want to keep reading. I felt like I was reading a combo of Gone With the Wind and The Kitchen House. I think it would have been too much for me if it wasn't historical fiction. I realize the author elaborates a lot but reading what she included and why was interesting. I learned a lot (maybe too much haha!) about Thomas Jefferson and his family. 

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy: I read The Mapmaker's Children from this author last year and really enjoyed it. And I thoroughly enjoyed this one too. Even though she's making up the story of Marilla growing up and what her relationship with John Blythe might have looked like, it worked. I did roll my eyes a little bit with some of the romance but it was sweet and sad, even if you know how it ends from the Anne books. I loved the little connections between Marilla and Anne and fun to see some of the dots connect. Even the chapter headings were similar to the Anne books. Recommend if you need something light and nostalgic. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Conference Weekend

I say this every 6 months but Conference weekend is the best two weekends of the year. This one was no exception.

Wednesday morning, bright and early, Austin takes me and Dallin to King Station to catch the train heading to Portland. It takes the same amount of time on the train as the car and the cost of a tank of gas. Plus I didn't have to drive (I hate driving by myself) and I got to nurse on the go so it was a win-win for me. That morning was also beautiful and it was lovely watching the sunrise over the dew and fog of the beautiful PNW.

I arrived with my boarding pass and they could see I had Dallin strapped to me and offered to help me onto the train. They also gave me 4 seats, two sets facing each other, all to myself! And of course I used all 4 of those seats for the car seat, my luggage, my backpack, and the carrier. :) And the aisle in between the seats as placement to change his diaper.

We were greeted so excitedly by Grandpa and Grandma Lewis at Union Station! It was so fun to see them.

Quick recap: Our time spent with them was so lovely. Mom is the best hostess. And I'm so glad Dallin adjusted well to sleeping in a new place in a new bed. We ate lots of yummy food, Mom and I started The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix (Mom's 3rd time seeing it!), and we went to the Portland Temple with Vivienne and Ondalynn.
Mom was so nice enough to watch Dallin while we got to go and do sealings. Just prior to coming on this trip, I realized that my recommend expired and didn't know if I would have enough time to get it in time to attend with them. The Seattle temple is closed till after Thanksgiving so when my recommended expired, I delayed getting it renewed. I sort of felt like the foolish virgins who didn't have oil for their lamps and was missing out on the blessings from not being prepared. Amazingly we got both bishop and stake interviews done back to back the night before we left on our trip. Whew. After we did our sealing session, Dad helped with another one so Viv and Ondalynn and I went to the celestial room and just soaked in the quiet. It was the perfect way to start Conference weekend. After we successfully unlocked the car door with the keys in the car, thanks to security at the Temple (best place to do it for sure), we headed to Potbelly's for yummy lunch.

Friday, Austin headed down from Seattle but the traffic was so crazy because of the rain and accidents that it took him almost 5 hours to get to Portland. He picked me at Ikea and we headed to Vancouver to watch the BYU vs Utah State football game and have homemade pizza. The loss was sad but the company was delightful.
Saturday morning, President Nelson made changes to 'home-centered, Church-supported gospel learning.' Our meetings will now be 2 hours instead of three. I don't know anyone who is not happy about this except some kids in our ward and my nephew who love Church because of the social aspect of it. :)

All the talks were so good but I especially loved the First Presidency's message to the women in the women's session that Saturday evening. I was in 3rd Nephi when President Nelson issued the challenge to read The Book of Mormon by the end of the year so it will be fitting to end the year with the coming of Christ in chapter 11 as I circle back to 3rd Nephi. Already it's been a spiritually uplifting experience to mark references to Christ and see what accompanies those scriptures.

 Sunday we watched the morning session at Mom and Dad's and then headed to the Vances with the Caudles for lunch and the second Sunday session. Twelve new temples were announced! I really loved President Nelson's promise at the end of doing home-centered, Church supported gospel learning. He said it has the potential to unleash the powers of families. What an amazing time that we live to be able to hear a Prophet speak.